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Last autumn and over the winter months, ecological consultants Rainsbrook Ecology carried out a bird survey across the 2,900 acres that currently make up the Heart of England Forest.

Mistle thrush, Turdus viscivorus, single bird on berries, Warwickshire, December 2014

Mistle thrush, Turdus viscivorus, single bird on berries, Warwickshire, December 2014

The aim was to compile a species list for each area of the forest, to show the variety of birds visiting, how they are distributed and their breeding behaviour.

This information is vital for our project teams when they’re making decisions about the management of the forest. And a really fascinating local insight for everyone else.

A total of 73 different species were recorded in the survey, which is a huge number for an area in the heart of England without any significant wetlands (which usually attract migrating birds in particular). And that number included some unexpected spots, with 13 conservation Red List species, 12 Species of Principle Importance and three species afforded special wildlife protection.

Skylark, Alauda arvensis, single bird on post, Warwickshire, May 2014

Skylark, Alauda arvensis, single bird on post, Warwickshire, May 2014

It’s also interesting to look at the types of species that were found in each different area of the forest. There were lots of birds associated with farmland recorded in the newly planted areas but, as the forest matures, it’s expected that there will be an increase in woodland species.

This detailed information will mean our foresters can plan the new planting to promote a good mix of woodland and grassland, and ensure as many species as possible continue to visit and make home in the forest.